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Last Updated: Thursday, 21 December 2006, 16:33 GMT
New delay for Angolan elections
President Jose Eduardo Dos Santos (file image)
The Angolan president is one of Africa's longest-ruling leaders
Angola's first elections since the end of the country's 27-year civil war look set to be postponed by at least a year.

Presidential and parliamentary polls had been due in 2007, but a cross-party advisory committee said more time was needed to prepare.

The legislative polls will take place in mid-2008 and the presidential polls in 2009, a committee spokesman said.

By then President Jose Eduardo Dos Santos, who chairs the committee, will have led Angola for 30 years.

Attorney-General Augusto Carneiro said the delay was because voter registration would not be completed until June 2007, state news agency Angop reported.

'More work needed'

The elections are seen as a key step in rebuilding Angola after nearly three decades of civil war.

Opposition parties have accused the president of trying to cling to power.

Map of Angola

A spokesman for the former rebel group Unita said that the emergence of a firm date was a "positive development", but said his party wanted presidential elections in 2008.

"If you take into account that the civil war ended in 2002, the president will have been exercising power without legitimacy for seven years" by 2009, spokesman Adalberto Costa told the French news agency AFP.

But Anastacio Finda, representing a coalition of several opposition parties, said the delay made sense because more work was needed.

"We must accelerate the demining, we must create the material and financial conditions to enable all the parties to take part in the electoral process," he said.

Angola's infrastructure was devastated by the lengthy war and hundreds of thousands of landmines remain scattered around the country.

Angola's last elections were held in 1992, but fighting broke out again before they could be completed.

Around half a million people died in the civil war, which pitted the ruling Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) against Unita rebels.

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